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A 403(B) can be in an annuity or outside of annuity. However, regardless of which it is, you are limited to the choices of plans that your school district has negotiated on your behalf. Typically, 403(B) plans are annuities. I suspect this is because those who make the decisions on which plans to offer may not be sufficiently Foolish to ask the right questions and are "sold" by the plan salespeople. Even if there are low cost funds (Vanguard, for example) as the investment choices, the annuity "wrapper" around them can be expensive. If TIAA-CREF is one of the choices available to you, I would give that a very close look. It is a reputable, non-profit organization with very low expenses relative to the annuity industry.
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